Turkey is back on the map! Holidaymakers are returning to the destination’s most popular beach locales in drones, but there is one undiscovered gem where the glass-like Aegean and Mediterranean seas meet beneath a dramatic backdrop of postcard perfect mountains that will capture the hearts of discerning travellers in 2018. Sarigerme, on the remote southwestern coast of Turkey, is home to taste-bud tantalizing cuisine, ancient relics and tombs, nesting sea turtles, lively markets and idyllic pampering. Whether searching for an easy weekend break or an extended summer holiday, Sarigerme offers something for every kind of traveller and family. Here are 10 reasons to visit Turkey’s best kept secret in 2018:
Be a real life Indian Jones: Visitors on the hunt for a culturally enriching escape will find an array of well-preserved archaeological sites near Sarigerme which pay tribute to the cultural traditions and customs of the Persians, Athenians, Ottomans, Romans and Lycians who once inhabited the land. In the ancient city of Kaunos, which dates back to the ninth century BC, travellers can take a boat trip down the Dalyan River, through the reed beds, and observe the fascinating city perched on the hill top. From the river, the Lycian Rock Tombs are clearly visible, carved into the side of the limestone cliff side, their grandeur palpable even from a distance. At the Fethiye Museum decipher the trilingual stone, a three-faced artefact with writing in Greek, Aramaic, and Lycian, which was the key to understanding the Lycian language.
Taste a new take on Turkish food: Travellers are invited to dive into Sarigerme’s unique flavours from street food, sold by local vendors in the beautiful and vibrant markets to a more traditional seafood dining experience at one of the many family-owned restaurants, known to locals as meyhanes. Visitors to Sarigerme should sample peynirli börek, a traditional snack made from layer upon layer of flaky pastry and filled with fresh spinach or cheese, lokmasi, deep-fried dough balls doused in syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon, and biber dolmasi, locally sourced green peppers stuffed with various ingredients such as lamb, beef, rice and onions. For a vegetarian alternative, there is yaprak sarma, grape leaves stuffed with rice, tomato, mint and pepper and sautéed in olive oil.
Feel what happens when two seas meet: Unlike other beach destinations along the Turquoise Coast, Sarigerme’s unique positioning between the Aegean and Mediterranean seas welcomes a cool sea breeze in the hot summer months which means travellers can comfortably enjoy the beach and the outdoors for much longer without having to retreat into the air conditioning.
Meet the caretta caretta:The beaches surrounding Sarigerme are renowned for their vast numbers of nesting Loggerhead turtles, known locally as caretta caretta, that come to the shores every year. The turtles are tranquil creatures that can be found swimming in the sea under the glow of the Turkish sun. Visitors coming to the area between spring and mid-summer will also have the opportunity to watch the Loggerhead hatchlings dashing across the sand towards the ocean.
Island hop by yacht: Consistently voted as one of the best beaches in the world, Göcek Bay and its 12 islands provide a stunning backdrop for a holiday to Sarigerme. With beautiful beaches, idyllic islands and crystal clear waters, visitors have a chance to swim, snorkel or sunbathe their way through the region. For a truly romantic experience, couples can charter a private yacht for the day and see the sights in style.
Get divinely dirty: For those wanting to relax whilst also indulging in the local traditions and cultures of the area the Dalyan Mud Baths and natural hot springs are a quick 20-minute drive away from Sarigerme. Natures very own spa is believed to have curing qualities that restore the body and mind to leave visitors feeling refreshed, relieving aches and pains and leaving your skin glowing – the perfect way to relax with family and friends. The Dalyan Mud Baths are accessible only by boat, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy the breath-taking scenery of the surrounding landscape as they glide through the reed beds in rustic wooden boats.
Barter for a bargain: On Wednesday the market comes to Sarigerme where visitors can bag a bargain on traditional trinkets, such as mosaic glass lamps, hand painted ceramics, high quality carpets and the popular Nazar Boncugu (the Evil Eye) used to warn off bad luck. After honing their haggling skills, travellers can take a break from the retail therapy and savour a famous Turkish pancake or sweet baklava treat with coffee or apple tea.
Don the binoculars and head down river: The River Dalyan is home to some extraordinary and rare species. Euphrates River Turtles are over a metre long with leathery shells and tube-like noses and can be observed from just a few feet away. White-Throated Kingfishers can frequently be seen along the river, often perched on boats, along with Purple Herons, Squacco Herons, Great Egrets and White-Winged Black Terns, which are also common species in the area.
Rock and roll: With over 40,000 caves and caverns, Sarigerme is a paradise for potholing and caving, offering adventurers the chance to see crumbling hidden churches, secret underground lakes, cisterns, stalactites and stalagmites. The cave network is not for the faint hearted, particularly because cavers will often be sharing the corners with friendly families of bats. For those who prefer to adventure in the light, Sarigerme provides travellers with the chance to try rock-climbing and abseiling in the rocky mountain surrounds.
Stay at the Hilton Dalaman Sarigerme Resort & Spa: Located on a beautiful private beach and boasting sprawling views of the surrounding mountains, the Hilton Dalaman Sarigerme Resort & Spa is the ideal place to stay and enjoy all of the wonders that the region has to offer. The resort combines ultra-contemporary luxury accommodation, such as two-floor suites with private terrace pools, with world-class amenities including 23 dining options serving cuisines and drinks from across the globe, an opulent spa with traditional Turkish baths, sprawling tennis courts and fitness centre, modern kids club, waterpark and ten swimming pools. Prices start from only £75 per person per night.
For more information, visit hiltondalaman.com.